The Best Movies of 2022

The New Year is here and as we settle in for all the great films 2023 has in store, our team is looking back on their favorites from last year!

Yes, we like to actually wait for the year to be over before making our “best of” choices and after having spent the holiday ‘break’ doing catch up with some films our team is ready to make the tough choices! We’ve tasked our contributors with narrowing down their FIVE favorite films of the year and why those made the list.

Jordan

This list was much harder to narrow down than I initially thought. Just off the top of my head, I ended up with way more than five movies. Even as I began thinking more and narrowing things down, I would remember ANOTHER movie just as deserving. Ultimately, I had to go with my gut and go with my favorite (not necessarily the “best”) films I watched this year.

The Batman – Pretty much from the first trailer we got (during DC FanDome 2020), I knew The Batman was going to be something special. Matt Reeves is one of my favorite modern directors and the result fans were treated to is nothing short of amazing. Coming in with a hefty runtime, the film expertly balances a new story, introducing familiar characters in unique ways, and getting us invested in this new version of Gotham. Oh, and I STILL get chills when the Batmobile fires up for the first time.

Prey – Prey is a phenomenal entry in the Predator franchise. Coming off the weaker entry in 2018, along with multiple attempts to revive the series before that, Prey came out of nowhere and blew the roof off. By taking the series back to its horror/creature feature roots and offering a new time period/protagonist, Prey manages to capture everything fans loved about the franchise while putting a fresh spin on it. And yeah, being focused on Native Americans is always a plus in my book!

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – No doubt about it, Wakanda Forever had an uphill battle. Despite having to drastically change up the story, Ryan Coogler managed to deliver one of the most emotional, and powerful, films in the Marvel Universe to date. Not only is it a personal film that works on its own as a touching tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s legacy, it STILL manages to set up some new elements for future films in the MCU to pick up.

Avatar: The Way of Water – As someone who loved the original Avatar film and seemed to be one of the few actually eager for this sequel, I was a bit worried The Way of Water wouldn’t live up to the hype built up by the long wait. Thankfully, it managed to blow every expectation out of the (figurative) water by delivering a heartfelt family story that features stunning visuals and gorgeous action. As soon as it was over, I immediately wanted to watch it again.

Nope – Much as I love Jordan Peele’s films (and alien movies) I sadly wasn’t able to see this one in theaters. I had to wait until the physical release to check it out, but it instantly became a favorite for the year (probably even the decade). It’s cleverly written and brilliantly acted, and makes the “reveal” it’s actually a MONSTER movie rather than alien invasion, all the more gripping. It’s like a modern Jaws in some ways and shows Peele can handle just about any horror genre with deftness.

Honorable Mentions: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Jurassic World: Dominion, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, The Woman King

Garrett

2022 was a year of surprises. It felt like several movies came out of nowhere and picked up a lot of (worthy) buzz on social media. Many of the movies I had been looking forward to seeing got delayed, and others didn’t quite meet my lofty expectations for them. But there were many films that stuck with me. These aren’t necessarily the “Best” movies of the year, but the ones which I appreciated the most…

The Batman – Although I was actually really looking forward to this film because of the cast and production, I honestly wasn’t that thrilled with the idea of yet another Batman movie. As with Spider-Man, I feel like additional reboots just water down the character. But I am happy to admit that I was wrong! For once we got a comic book movie that wasn’t trying to compete with the latest and greatest at Marvel. It embellished itself in the grain of a graphic novel, seeking out inspiration from other successful thrillers, but still blazing a path on its own. This felt like the more adult, more sophisticated superhero movie we didn’t realize we needed.

Top Gun: Maverick – It has been a long time since I was as entertained watching a movie as I was while watching Top Gun: Maverick in theaters. This is a thrill ride of a movie, well acted and brilliantly filmed. It has that nostalgic hook, but doesn’t feel like it is relying on that completely. It does away with that clout of modern blockbusters and makes something that is simply exciting to watch, but not mind-numbingly dumb. For everything that could have gone wrong with this very delayed sequel starring a controversial supposed-to-be-past-his-prime action star, it went inexplicably, inspirationally right.

The Banshees of Inisherin – I love the unique and entertaining perspective that Martin McDonaugh brings to his films. Banshees of Inisherin takes full advantage of his talents, along with the incredible skills of Colin Ferrel and Brendan Gleeson. But it is more than just a director and actors at the top of their game. The production, the cinematography, the general tone of beautiful malaise – all come together to create a film that is both hilarious and deeply depressing at the same time. I’m not sure how they pulled it off, but of all the films this year this is the one I can’t stop thinking about.

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once –  This film is the definition of beautiful chaos. It is unique, but familiar, crazy but homely. I’m all for movies that defy expectations and break down the norms – and this one does that and more. While it is certainly chaotic and long, its the type of movie experience we see very infrequently, and for that reason along it deserves to be cherished. Add in some incredible performances by Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu, a welcome return of Ke Huy Quan, and the sensational work of Jamie Lee Curtis, and this film is one you can’t miss.

Crimes of the Future – While neither the greatest film to release this year nor among the most popular, I simply had to include it on my list of my most cherished films of 2022. I am a massive fan of David Cronenberg, especially his body horror classics. He has gotten away from that in the last 20 years, and so this was a very welcome return to form. Like #4 on my list, it is crazy, but even more so. This is a movie that completely eschews normal filmmaking to create something odd, off-putting, and most importantly, hypnotically beautiful. From chunky 80’s-esque special effects, to wacky performances that are all over the map, to a chilling minimalist industrial-punk vibe, I loved everything about it.

Becky

I think 2022 was an amazing year for movies, even if there were some notable disappointments (looking at you Halloween Ends). I didn’t think I’d be able to narrow down my list to five because there were just so many I could’ve picked, so I decided to pick five that really stuck in my head after I watched them.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Yes, I know Thor: Love and Thunder had its moments. And yes, I’m very much aware that there is a lot of awesomeness in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. That being said, if I have to pick ONE Marvel film from 2022 as one of my favorites, it has to be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s been a long time since a Marvel film blew my mind this completely and the story here was so good.

I’d been wanting to see the MCU take more of a horror bent for a while and this film did an excellent job. Plus there were those awesome cameos from the Illuminati that absolutely made my day. This film solidified my appreciation of Doctor Strange in the MCU and I can’t wait to see where his story goes from here.

The Northman – I think The Northman will soon become a guilty pleasure for me. The film is just so unbelievably beautiful, you can’t stop looking at it. Then there’s the added bonus of having the story come from the tale that inspired Shakespeare to write Hamlet and you really have a perfect film. I also am thoroughly in love with the chemistry between Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy, the latter of which had a really good year in movies in 2022. Simply put, The Northman is a beautiful film and one of the best I saw last year.

The Woman King – Where do I even start with The Woman King? This is one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever seen, not least because it’s based on real life. While the exact story of The Woman King didn’t happen, the elite female warriors of Dahomey did exist and seeing them brought to life on the big screen was absolutely stunning and empowering to witness. The action scenes in The Woman King were some of the best I saw in 2022, with a hard-hitting intensity that never let up for a moment. An amazing film that everyone should see at least once.

The Menu – This film is going to hold a special place in my memory for a long time because it’s one of those rare films that grabbed my attention from the moment I first saw the trailer. Ever since I accepted I’m a fan of horror, I’ve sought it out wherever I can and I could tell that The Menu had a delightfully twisted horror element in it.

Multiple viewings have not only shown this to be true, they also confirm that The Menu is one of those films that can be watched more than once without getting boring. There’s always some new detail to notice, some quirk in the acting that lends to the story. And of course, there’s the superb performances from Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy that remain some of my favorites from 2022.

Inu-Oh – If there’s one film that I’m glad I took the time to go see in theaters in 2022 it’s Inu-Oh. This anime film had an extremely limited release in theaters, I think it played at my theater for less than a week, and I was fortunate enough to see the film on the opening night. I remember this particular screening quite well as I was the only person in the theater. Which, as cool as it was to have the theater to myself, it was also a shame as Inu-Oh was easily one of the most beautiful films I saw in 2022. I was initially taken aback by the film being a rock opera (I’d somehow missed that detail in the previews) but does it ever work! The art, the music, the story, it all comes together in a story that sticks with you long after it finishes.

Jess

I personally did not think it was a great year for movies (television series seem to dominate my household in 2022), but I found at least five worth mentioning – and I will always jump at the opportunity to swoon about Disenchanted.

Disenchanted – The reviews for this film were polarizing but I am firmly in the “I loved it!” camp. I enjoyed Disenchanted the first time I saw it and it has grown on me more and more each time. While sequels always have a lot to live up to, I was primarily excited for most of the original cast to return. The songs are fabulous (Idina Menzel’s character, Nancy, gets a song, 5 stars right there), and the comedy is HILARIOUS.

Whenever I am having a bad day I just think of Edward’s and Robert’s interactions and I cannot NOT smile. It also gave me really warm-fuzzy feelings to see a Disney Princess in her next chapter of life i.e. after happily ever after. A lot of us ‘80s and early ‘90s babies may relate to a similar next-chapter stage, so it really resonated for me. Huge fan.

ELVIS – I enjoyed the crazed fever dream that is Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS. The focus on the music was phenomenal and it hit a lot of key moments. The scene transitions were brilliant moving images, reminiscent of Luhrmann’s work in Moulin Rouge! Despite a weak portrayal by the actress who played Priscilla, Austin Butler did a commendable job and I couldn’t help but get a kick and a giggle out of the highly sexualized nature of those early Elvis performances. Luhrmann really did make them uncomfortably delicious. The end of the film wrecked me as is expected to wreck any Elvis fan who feels his premature passing today the same way the world felt it in ‘77.

Smile – I felt like I hadn’t seen a really good, really spooky, horror movie in a long while until Smile. Although it didn’t haunt me like films in the past have done, (ehem, The Ring, but I was 14 years old, okay?) the premise was enough to keep my adrenaline running high throughout the film. The performances were very good and the story ran at a great pace. In a similar way to putting clowns into a scary context, smiling in a scary context just might be the worst (best) horror idea ever.

Morbius – It is still not clear to me why people hate on Morbius. In my view, it is one of the better Marvel movies to come out in recent years. It doesn’t get too caught up in effects, popularity and hype but instead commits itself wholly to the characters, plot and story progression. It is easy-watching and is by and large family friendly (as long as the youngens aren’t too young).

It gave me Batman Forever (one of my favorite movies ever) vibes in terms of its style and focus on story (is that why everyone hated it? Too DC-esque?). Jared Leto and Matt Smith are also always a pleasure to watch and their performances in this film were no exception. It was a win for me.

The Invitation – This film might be one of those B-grade Netflix films that people always scroll past, but I watched it last week and really enjoyed it. In a horror-meets-rom com style, The Invitation ticks a lot of boxes. Glitz, glamor, travel, parties, vampires. I would not say it was particularly scary or one of my favorite films ever, but it certainly had its moments. Old world manors and mysterious family history will always pique my interest, and although actor Nathalie Emmanuel is the reason I ultimately pressed play on this one, I’d probably do it again.

Matt

I’ll take you behind the curtain here. Since moving to South Korea, I haven’t been able to watch that many new movies. It’s not because they don’t come to Korea, because they very much do. No, it’s because Korea has weird theatrical runs. New movies are only in theaters for like 2-3 weeks and then they’re gone. Also, the concessions at Korean movie theaters are very different (Sweet Onion Flavored Popcorn or Dried Squid anyone?). Anyway, here’s the best movies that I did watch.

The Batman – It is kind of sad to me that outside of the Nolan-verse, there hasn’t been a successful Batman series with the same actor. However, if there is going to be one, I want it to be Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s world. That’s because this world was gritty, intense, and all around mesmerizing. Pattinson’s take on Batman was fantastic and the performances of his castmates, Paul Dano (Riddler) and Zoe Kravitz (Catwoman) especially, were so good. Definitely one of the highlights of 2022.

Bullet Train – Since trailers first appeared for Bullet Train, I couldn’t wait for this movie. I mean, Brad Pitt fighting for his life against assassins and mercenaries on a high-speed bullet train in Japan? Sign me the hell up! At no point did it surprise me, either. However, what surprised me was that this movie was as much of a comedy as it was an action movie. It’s no Oscar winner, but it was thrilling, fun, and one of those flicks that I’ll keep going back to regularly.

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once – This film was an absolute triumph. Every year, we tend to get roughly the same type of film with the same tropes and predictable outcomes. However, what makes the best films are the ones that are entirely original and unique. That’s Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. It was Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis at their finest in a chaotic but beautiful story that’s a sight to behold.

Top Gun: Maverick – I’m a huge fan of Top Gun. Before Maverick came out, I probably watched the first film about 6 times. Mainly, I wanted to show all of the people of Korea who had never seen it why it was incredible. What’s amazing is that Maverick actually surpassed it. It blended nostalgia with nuance and even improved where the first movie fell short, excluding the two offense football game that made no sense whatsoever. (Even Google Docs thinks I made a mistake with that sentence) Nevertheless, should we never get another Top Gun movie, Maverick was enough to satisfy fans for years.

Avatar: The Way of Water – Speaking of movies that took way too long to get a sequel of, Avatar: The Way of Water was well worth the wait. True to form, the second Avatar film was an incredible spectacle. It’s one of those films that you absolutely had to experience in theaters mainly because no household device could truly display the gorgeous world of Pandora. Moreover, the story was a wonderful next chapter in the series. A series that after 13 years appears to be just getting started. It was an amazing way to close out 2023.


 

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Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.